Tag Archives: healthy

Lemon-y Salmon Cakes

Well today I want to share with you one of my favorite, quick and easy, go-to dinners!

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I always keep canned salmon in the house just for this purpose. First of all, it can be hard to find Wild-caught Alaskan salmon in the fresh seafood department – and when you do find it, it can be really pricey. Most of the time what you see is Atlantic Salmon, which is all farmed and significantly lower in nutrients (and usually dosed in antibiotics). However, most canned salmon (and it will specify right on the label) is wild-caught Alaskan salmon. I was so excited when I found this out! And I was even more excited when I finally perfected my recipe for these salmon cakes – they really are a perfect quick and easy dinner!

Sidebar: I’ve seen recipes like this that call these Salmon Burgers, and you can do that if you like but to me – if it has breadcrumbs in it, it’s a cake, not a burger. Sidebar over.

Lemon-y Salmon Cakes
Makes four cakes.

    – 2, 5 ounce cans of salmon, drained
    – 2 eggs
    – 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped onion (or 2 teaspoons granulated onion)
    – 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    – 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic)
    – 1/4 cup fresh dill or parsley, chopped (or in a pinch use a few teaspoons of dried dill)
    – a pinch of red pepper flakes
    – 1/4 – 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (start with 1/4 and add until the cakes come together, it seems like I need a different amount of breadcrumbs every time)

Mix all ingredients together, adding the breadcrumbs at the end. Start with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and continue adding until the mixture comes together. Form the mixture into four cakes. The cakes are relatively delicate – so just form them the best that you can. Heat a few tablespoons of oil (I use olive) in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve the cakes on buns, by themselves, or on top of a salad – all three options are delicious! I also like to mix a little lemon juice into some mayo and serve that on top. These salmon cakes plus a quick vegetable side or salad make for a quick and nutritious dinner!

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Things I’ve Been Eating Lately

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a very work-heavy few weeks for me. While I’ve resisted the urge to do a lot of eating out and ordering in, I’ve been mostly cooking other people’s recipes (mostly other bloggers!) instead of coming up with stuff of my own. But along the way I’ve discovered some great recipes – which I wanted to share with you! 🙂

Up first, this recipe for Light Sesame Chicken from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as the take-out version, or to be able to stop my cravings for take-out at all but I was pleasantly surprised! This chicken was easy to pull together and absolutely delicious! Now I just need to perfect a fried-rice recipe to go with it, and maybe I can be free of my Chinese take-out cravings forever! 🙂

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This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Up next, I decided to make Beef Stew in the crock-pot one day because I had some great grass-fed beef in the freezer that I wanted to use up. Plus, when the weather starts to get cold there’s not better than soups or stews in the crock-pot! I following this recipe from Real Simple almost exactly as is and it turned out great! I just made a few basic changes: I used my own homemade chicken stock instead of beef stock, I added a few cloves of garlic (because I’m incapable of making anything without garlic), and I didn’t bother with flouring the meet before browning it.

This is a great basic Beef Stew recipe to keep around as a go-to. And it’s easy to change up with other vegetables as you’d like! Sidenote: I had enough carrot skins, carrot tops, onion scraps, and garlic bits left over from this one recipe alone that I’m going to have to make another batch of my homemade stock very soon!

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Another sidenote: I completely forgot about the peas until after I took this picture, then I stirred them into the remaining stew

Speaking of soups and stews, I took a trip for work earlier this year to a very small town in Georgia. There were very few restaurants in this town other than chains – and I think all the restaurants were in a row on the road my hotel was on. One night, I ate at Olive Garden and I really loved their chicken gnocchi soup. Apparently a lot of people like this soup too because once I started searching for it I noticed about a million copy-cat recipes on Pinterest. I used this recipe from Pass the Sushi and really loved it!

Here are the changes I made:
– I used some home-cooked poached chicken and homemade stock from my making homemade stock post.
– I used frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung out) instead of fresh because frozen, organic spinach is seriously one of the best deals in the supermarket. Seriously, with how much spinach cooks down – just think of how much fresh spinach it takes to make that bag of frozen spinach! Unless you’re making a spinach salad, I don’t see any reason not to always use frozen spinach.
– Finally, instead of using half and half or cream I used one of my favorite healthy-eating substitutions! Puree a half cup of white beans with a 1/2 cup of milk in the food processor and use that instead of a cup of cream. It adds great fiber and other nutrition!

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Finally, on to dessert! I finally ran out of the cookies I was keeping in my freezer (for those of you who don’t know, another trick of mine is I like to make a batch of cookies and freeze the un-cooked dough in little balls so I can pop a cookie or two into the oven when I’m craving one). I really enjoyed the last recipe I used, but this time around I decided to try a new one for Chocolate Cherry Heart Smart Cookies from Kitchen Food Recipes. I forgot to take a picture of them, but I made little dough-balls exactly like before and they are delicious! (Note: I used all whole wheat flour instead of half wheat and half white like in the recipe)

Speaking of cookies, the other night I tried the “3-Minute Oatmeal Raisin” cookie recipe from Carrots’N’Cake the other day and it was ok. I much prefer my method of making a batch and freezing the dough to bake individual cookies later. Just my preference.

Weekend Update & Granola Recipe

I hope everyone had a great weekend! The weekends just seem to go by faster and faster every week. This weekend was really calm and relaxing for me. In true introvert fashion, I spent the entire weekend by myself (other than the workout classes I took at the gym). It was so refreshing!

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On Saturday morning I went to Body Pump. I’m loving the new releases! The tricep track is really hard, but it’s exactly what I need since I feel like the triceps are the weakest part of my arms. Saturday afternoon, I took myself to see ‘The Way Way Back’ in theaters (another very introvert-y thing to do). The movie was excellent! I’m a huge Sam Rockwell fan and the movie was very charming. There’s just no other word for it. Saturday night dinner was one of my favorites – tandoori chicken, naan bread, tabbouleh and hummus. Yum.

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Sunday was one of those productive days where I got a bunch of little things done that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. A few months ago, I got an old drawing of mine from art class framed and I’ve been meaning to hang it up but I discovered that Michael’s had put the bracket on the back on upside-down. I finally took the picture back to Michael’s to have the hanger fixed and ‘ta-da!’, hung it on the wall.

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This literally took me 5 minutes. I can’t believe I put it off for so long. I also hung up a hook from West Elm that I’ve also been meaning to hang up for like 6 months. I’m using it to hold my gym/yoga bags by the door. Isn’t it cute? It’s an elephant!

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While I was grocery shopping on Saturday (it was a very small, quick trip in accordance with my August goal of eating the food that’s already in my house) I spotted some granola that looked absolutely delicious! But I know that store-bought granola can be really high in sugar (plus I’m not supposed to be buying extra grocery items) so I resisted the urge. Later that night, I did some Google-ing/Pinterest-ing and discovered that granola is super easy to make! So I decided to make my own.

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Turns out it’s as easy as mixing together some oats,

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Some nuts,

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Cinnamon (optional), vanilla, salt (gotta love salty-sweet!), coconut oil, and maple syrup.

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Spread the whole mixture on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

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Let it cool and store in an airtight container. I stored mine in this awesome glass jar I picked up at IKEA (really cheap!). It’s delicious, so easy, and along with some Greek yogurt will definitely be my go-to snack this week!

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This recipe is super easy to customize with your favorite nuts/seeds/flavors. Change out the walnuts for any nuts you like (if you want to use seeds add them in for the last few minutes of roasting or they could burn). You can also use honey instead of the maple syrup but I wanted that maple-y flavor! 🙂

Maple Walnut Granola
Makes 5 cups.

    – 4 cups oats
    – 1 cup walnuts, chopped
    – 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    – 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    – 1 teaspoon salt
    – ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    – ½ cup maple syrup

Combine all ingredients and spread on a sheet pan. Roast in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Keep an eye on the granola during the last 5 minutes or so – it browns quickly! I ended up pulling mine after about 17 minutes.

I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

Caprese Pasta Salad

For Fourth of July weekend, I went camping with my parents down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I always try to split the food duties with my mom, so I brought down hot dogs and hamburgers for our 4th of July BBQ, as well as some pasta salad and succotash to have on the side.

I got the idea for this pasta salad because of my deep love of the combination of mozarella, basil and tomatoes (see my margherita pizza and bruschetta recipes). I absoluetly love when summertime comes and fresh, local tomatoes are in abundance. I used to have some success growing my own tomatoes on my apartment balcony, but last year I moved and my new balcony doesn’t get enough sunlight. My new apartment is terrible for growing plants, in fact – it’s where plants go to die.

I thought a Caprese Pasta Salad would be quick and delicious, and it would travel and sit outside well since the dressing is oil and vinegar. Perfect! And the recipe really couldn’t be any easier!

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Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves eight.

    – 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    – 1, 8-10 oz container mozarella balls (you can halve them if they are large, mine were super petite so I left them whole)
    – 1/4 cup shredded mozarella (optional)
    – A large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
    – 1-2 cloves garlic, pasted
    – 10 ounces pasta, cooked and cooled (I used rotini, but any short-cut pasta would work)
    – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    – up to 1 cup olive oil
    – Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta and set it in a colander to cool. Halve the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Chop the basil and add to the bowl.

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Add the mozarella balls, halving them if necessary. I would usually cut them in half, but this time the mozarella balls were super tiny so I left them whole.

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I also added in about a 1/4 cup of shredded mozarella because I was worried there wasn’t enough cheese. Is there such thing as enough cheese? 🙂 At this point, I also added the garlic, salt, and pepper and stirred to combine.

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Add the cooled pasta, and dress with the balsamic vinegar and oil. Stir thoroughly. We ate this pasta salad for lunch several days in a row on the camping trip and it was a big hit! I’ll definitely be making it again.

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Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Along with the BBQ Chicken and cornbread I made on Saturday night, I whipped up a quick side of some Parmesan Roasted Broccoli. Along with grilled asparagus, it’s one of my all time favorite “quick and easy” side dishes. I’m always amazed at how delicious such simple meals can be! 🙂

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Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Serves three to four.

    – 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets (don’t throw away the stems! Stash them in the freezer and once you get 3-4 you can make cream of broccoli soup – blog post to come!)
    – 3 tablespoons olive oil
    – Salt and pepper
    – ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the broccoli florets (you can peel and dice the stem and include that in with the florets if you wish!) with the olive oil and salt and pepper and place in a baking dish. Roast for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Top with the Parmesan cheese and roast 1-2 minutes more, until cheese is melted.

Speaking of using up broccoli stems, I read this wonderful article from Organic Gardening about using up food scraps that we would normally throw away and I found it truly inspiring. I already do a few of these tips, like saving broccoli stems, but there are so many more I can now incorporate. One thing not mentioned in the article that I do, is I keep a large plastic container in my freezer for onion skins, carrot skins, carrot tops, scraps of garlic, onion roots, herb stems, etc. Once the container is full, I use these items to make my own stock! You can get a delicious stock out of the items you would usually throw away. It’s such a healthy and frugal way to keep your food budget on track!

Homemade BBQ Sauce & BBQ Chicken Recipes

After the 5k on Saturday morning, the day turned into the rainy, grey day that it was supposed to be all along. I’m very thankful that we had that brief window of perfect weather to run the race in the morning! 🙂

Saturday night was definitely a “staying in” kind of evening so I planned a dinner and a movie date with two girlfriends at my place. No matter how often we try to get together for a girls’ night – we always end up saying “it feels like it’s been too long!” Does that happen to everyone else, too? 🙂

I’ve been dying to try making my own BBQ sauce, but I don’t eat BBQ very often so it has sort of been on the back burner. But, I thought some BBQ chicken would be the perfect low-key dinner for our girls’ night! And after tasting this sauce, I may be eating BBQ more often. It’s super quick and easy to throw together, and made from ingredients you probably already have in your house.

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Homemade BBQ Sauce
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups sauce

    – 6 ounces tomato paste
    – ¾ cup ketchup
    – ½ cup chicken (or veggie) stock
    – 3 garlic cloves, minced or pasted
    – 2 tbsp brown sugar
    – 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
    – 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    – 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar
    – 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika will work)
    – 2 tsp cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium sauce pot and cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens to desired consistency. I cooked mine for about 10-15 minutes. If the mixture appears too thick, you can thin it out with another splash of stock.

I used the sauce to make some BBQ chicken in my cast iron skillet.

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BBQ Baked Chicken
Serves 4-6.

    – 4 chicken breasts (or thighs, or other meat – it’s up to you!)
    – Homemade BBQ Sauce (recipe above)
    – Coconut oil, olive oil, or other cooking oil
    – Salt and pepper

This is a quick and easy recipe to throw together! 🙂 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, I cut my chicken breasts in half because they were absolutely huge. Next, put a few tablespoons of your cooking oil into your cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet) and allow it to heat up. I used coconut oil because it has a higher smoke point then olive oil, and I have a particularly sensitive fire alarm. And my cats hate the fire alarm. It makes them make faces like this.

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Salt and pepper the chicken and add to the skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You’re just looking to sear the chicken, don’t worry about cooking it all the way through. Once both sides of the chicken are golden brown, coat the chicken in BBQ sauce and transfer to the oven. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.

Serve with your favorite BBQ sides, and additional sauce on the side for dipping!

Beets & More Beets

Friday night was a dreary one in DC as the remnants of Hurricane Andrea rolled through town. Being from the Hampton Roads area, hurricanes are old friends of mine and I never worry about them much (especially as far north as I am now), but all the rain and grey did put me in a rather dreary mood. Therefore, I decided to camp out in my apartment for the afternoon/evening and not work out. Seeing as I was running my first 5k the next morning, I thought it was the right thing to do to take the night off. I’m not sure if that’s true – somewhere in this running journey of mine I’m going to need to involve a professional, an experienced runner, someone who knows what the heck they’re doing.

But for this particular Friday, I had a stack of magazines calling my name.

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Seriously, I subscribe to too many magazines (most of them related to food). Hence why I had to create an organization system for all the pages I rip out of magazines.

So my plan was to “camp out” in my living room with the aforementioned magazines, my cats, Netflix Instant, and a “tapas-style” dinner I whipped up from some leftovers.

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It was sort of an Indian/Middle Eastern style tapas. I had a small amount of leftover tandoori chicken which I warmed up along with some naan bread (seriously my favorite thing to eat). I added a few tablespoons of Sabre Greek olive hummus (which was delicious spread on some naan with chicken on top). I also heated up a small serving (because it’s really filling!) of my Indian-spiced vegetable and lentil stew and topped it with some Greek yogurt. Finally, I chopped up some beets that I had roasted a few nights before into a “beet tartare” – a recipe I had conveniently stumbled upon the day before on another blog. I skipped the “cashew cheese” part of the recipe and just served the tartare over hummus. It was a filling dinner! 🙂

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I’m happy to have another recipe to use up beets because I currently have a ton of roasted beet to use up. In my box from Washington’s Green Grocer I got two absolutely huge beets. They sort of looked like mandrakes to me.

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To make sure they wouldn’t go bad, I roasted them in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour, then let them cool and peeled them. I sliced up half of one beet to make pickled beets. I sliced up half of another to make beet chips (pictured below).

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The beet chips were made in a very similar style to my sweet potato chips. Thinly sliced with a mandolin then roasted in a 300 degree over for 15 minutes, or until crisp. And look at how pretty they are when they’re sliced up!

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After that, I still had one huge beet to do something with so I just cubed him up and put him in a container for use throughout the week. I used maybe a third of what I had stored up for the “beet tartare.” Delicious! I’m such a huge fan of beets in any form – it baffles me that a lot of people don’t like them.

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But I’ll gladly keep eating them up! 🙂

On a completely unrelated note, I ended up watching “Scream” on Netflix Instant which I had somehow never seen before. The movie is hilarious! Completely unintentionally hilarious, but funny all the same. I actually checked IMDB to make sure it wasn’t supposed to be a comedy.

Do you like beets? What are your favorite beet recipes?